Archives

Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library & Museum

Grand Lodge Archives Collection

General Finding Aid

Click here for a copy of the General Finding Aid

Organizational History

The Grand Lodge F. & A.M., State of New York traces its roots back to the Provincial Grand Lodge of New York (sometimes called the Atholl Grand Lodge) which was charted in 1781 by the Antient Grand Lodge of England and which first met in 1782, on February of 1784 this Provincial [Atholl] Grand Lodge was closed and re-opened as the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York.  This Grand Lodge has continued work to the present day under authority of  the Atholl Charter of 1781.

There had been Masonic Lodges active in New York state prior to 1781, and one previous Provincial Grand Lodge (known as the First Provincial Grand Lodge), but it was dissolved and its warrant removed from the state by  its  last Grand Master before the end of the Revolutionary War.

Most of the papers in the Grand Lodge Archives Collection pertain to the official Grand Lodge, F. & A.  M., State of New York. There was, however, some dissension in the Grand Lodge during the early nineteenth century.  The resulting schismatic grand lodges are also represented in the Grand Lodge Archives Collection. They are:

1822-1827.          City Grand Lodge. (The official Grand Lodge during this period is often referred to as the “Country Grand Lodge”)

1837-1850.          St.  John’s Grand Lodge.

1849-1858.          Phillips Grand Lodge.

1853-1859.          St. John’s Grand Lodge (revived).

The complete organizational history of the Grand Lodge, F. & A.  M., State of New York has  been published in varying forms, most recently in the work New York Freemasonry: A Bicentennial History by Herbert Singer and Ossian Lang (New York: The Grand Lodge, 1976).  The information used in the above chronological notes is taken from this work.

General Description of the Collection

The Grand Lodge Archives includes papers created or received in the course of business by the Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of the State of New York and its subordinate lodges. Today, such documents often originate from the offices of the Grand Master, Grand Secretary, and Grand Treasurer. During the period 1784-1854, the Grand Stewards’ Lodge grew to have considerable influence in the day-to-day operations of Grand Lodge and papers from this entity appear in Series 1.

Series 1-2Series 3Series 4Series 5Series 6Series 7Series 8Series 9Series 10Series 11Series 12

General Grand Lodge Papers and Individual Lodge Papers.             

These papers were first collected and arranged in 1935-8 under the supervision of  then Grand Secretary Charles H.Johnson. The Grand Secretary’s Report in the Grand Lodge Proceedings for 1936 describes the scope of the collection as follows:

The older papers upon which we have concentrated our attention in this period include the General Papers of the Grand Lodge and of the old Grand Steward’s Lodge which was abolished in 1854; the papers and returns of some 500 extinct Lodges, most of which went down in the Morgan anti­ Masonic movement of a century ago; and the papers of older living Lodges, including their returns to 1839, when the present numbering of the Lodges was adopted.             [p. 34]

The Proceedings for 1938 report a broadening of the scope of the individual lodge collection, the chief addition being returns from 1839 to “the ·present time.”            [p. 60]

Material was also added to the Grand Lodge papers which now include documents dating up to 1874.

These papers were informally divided into two series, the General Grand Lodge Papers in a sequence of 34 unnumbered volumes, followed by the Individual Lodge Papers (extinct and living lodges interfiled alphabetically) in 127 numbered volumes.

New acquisitions will be added to these series if they predate the established cut-off dates (1874 for series 1 and 1937 for series 2).  Fragile or otherwise valuable materials postdating 1937 may also be added to series 2 (rather than the current Lodge Historical Files at the Librarian’s discretion.

NOTE: SERIES 2: Publicity Lodge No. 1000 Returns 1922-1952 are located in Oversized Box

Lodge Consolidations Files.         

Materials received by the Grand Secretary’s office since about 1954 were appended to  the Individual Lodge Papers in  numbered volumes 128-187.The original alphabetical arrangement was abandoned in  favor of  what appears to  be a straight chronological arrangement.This still-active grouping has  therefore been defined as  Series 3,  to  reflect the change in intellectual approach on  the  part of  its  creators. The name “Lodge Consolidations Files” is the name currently used by the originating office but  may not  accurately reflect the content of  the  series as  a whole.

The material in this series has not  been surveyed, but  appears to  be primarily composed of documents relative to  the creation, merging (consolidation) and dissolution of individual lodges. Beginning in August 1965, transactions filed in this  series have been assigned a sequential transaction number and are  recorded in the  “Consolidations  Index”. Specific volume numbers are more or  less systematically recorded in this  index beginning with vol. 153 (January 1978). Notations have also been made for  vols. 140 (May 1973) and 143 (May 1974). Copies of  this  index (which also includes occasional warranting, issuing of charters and forfeitures) are on  file  at  the  Reference Desk and in the  office of the Assistant Grand Secretary.

Grand Secretary’s Papers.           

This number has  been assigned for  use with papers generated by  the Office of the  Grand Secretary.At  present, only materials dated after 1853 are being accessioned into this  series; earlier materials are  incorporated into Series 1.

Subseries have been reserved for Grand Secretaries prior to  1853, however, to allow for the possibility of revision of  this  policy. These unused subseries are identified by  the use of  italics and square brackets in the  following list  of  subseries. Dates used in this subseries listing follow the  standard Grand Lodge format and represent the  years in which an  officer was elected. Since terms of  Grand Lodge officers do  not  follow the  calendar year, actual papers in  a series may continue into  the  year following the “terminal” date. Click here for more details.

Grand Master’s Papers.

This number has  been assigned for  use with papers generated by the  Office of  the  Grand Master. At  present, only materials dated after the  union of the Regular and St.  John’s Grand Lodges in  1850 are  being accessioned into this  series; earlier materials are incorporated into  Series 1.   Subseries have been reserved for  Grand Masters prior to  1850, however, to  allow for  the  possibility of  revision of  this  policy. These unused subseries are  identified by  the  use  of  italics and square brackets in the  following list of subseries. Provincial Grand Masters have not been included in this  listing. Should any papers for  Provincial Grand Masters be  added to  the  collection a  new (separate) series should be defined. Dates used in this subseries listing follow the standard Grand Lodge format and represent the  years in  which an  officer was elected.  Since terms of Grand Lodge officers do  not  follow the  calendar year, actual papers in a series may continue into the year following the  “terminal” date. Click here for more details.

Papers of Grand Lodge Committees and Special Offices.

 

This series is made up of papers related to specific special committees and offices of the Grand Lodge. Because of the large number of such entities which have existed over the years, no exhaustive listing of potential subseries will be attempted before the fact, rather subseries for individual committees will be assigned as material is acquired. Click here for more details.

Grand Lodge Publications.

This file contains published (printed) materials generated by the Grand Lodge. These items have been gathered into a separate series because of storage considerations.

Historical Figures.

 This series consists of papers and collections related to people worthy of note both generally and in the history of the Grand Lodge of New York. Papers include individual correspondence and collections.  Subseries will be created based on the historical figure’s name. Call numbers in the format of “AR_______” that are written on papers are in reference to the AR Collection Finding Aid.

Historical Events.

This series consists of papers and collections related to major events in the history of the Grand Lodge of New York and Masonic history. Subseries will be named after each historical event. Call numbers in the format of “AR_______” that are written on papers are in reference to the AR Collection Finding Aid.

Concordant Bodies.

This series includes papers that deal with concordant bodies of Masonry. Examples include Scottish Rite and Royal Arch. Subseries will be created based on the name of the concordant body. Call numbers in the format of “AR_______” that are written on papers are in reference to the AR Collection Finding Aid.

Non-New York, Masonic.

This series contains papers that are in relation to the Blue Lodges, but are not located in New York. This series will include subseries for “Non-New York: United States” and “Non-New York: Foreign.” Subseries will be generated based on geographic name. For “Non-New York: United States,” subseries will be created by state name. For “Non-New York: Foreign,” subseries will be named after the country. Call numbers in the format of “AR_______” that are written on papers are in reference to the AR Collection Finding Aid.

Masonic-Related/Ephemera.

Items included in this series will be masonic-related, but are not attached to a specific lodge. This series will also contain standard ephemera that was originally found in the AR collection, such as currency and tickets. Call numbers in the format of “AR_______” that are written on papers are in reference to the AR Collection Finding Aid.